Guide to the Polhemus Family Papers 1749-ca. 1980 Bulk dates: 1850-1960 MG 1681


Descriptive Summary
Biographical Note
Scope and Content Note
Access Points
Related Material
Administrative Information

Container List

Polhemus Family Collection

Guide to the Polhemus Family Papers
1749-ca. 1980
Bulk dates: 1850-1960
MG 1681

The New Jersey Historical Society
52 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Contact: NJHS Library
Phone: (973) 596-8500 x249
©2007 All rights reserved.
The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Inventory prepared by Julia Telonidis.

Finding aid encoded by Julia Telonidis. October 2007. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Polhemus family
Title: Polhemus Family Papers
Dates 1749-ca. 1980
Abstract: Consists of letters, certificates, wills, deeds, photographs, ephemera and genealogical information belonging to various
members of the Polhemus family of Newark, NJ.
Quantity: 1 linear foot (3 boxes) located 5th fl. above Curator of Manuscripts desk
Collection Number: MG 1681

Biographical Note

The Polhemus family was one of Newark’s most prominent families. For ninety years, they resided at 69 Washington St. in downtown Newark. The family descended from clergyman Johannes Theodorus Polhemus, a Dutch immigrant of German descent who emigrated to the colony of New Netherland in 1654, settling in what is now Long Island, New York. Serving for many years as the first minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in Brooklyn, he died in 1676. He was granted land in Flatbush, Brooklyn by Governor Stuyvesant in 1662. He had 8 children with his wife Catherine Van Der Werven and a child born prior to that in the Netherlands.

One of Johannes Theodorus’s many descendants was Rev. Abraham Polhemus. Born in 1812 Abraham graduated from Rutgers College in 1831, and from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 1835. He was pastor at the Reformed Dutch Church in Hopewell, New York, and later very briefly at the North Reformed Church in Newark, NJ in 1857 until his death later that year. After his death, his widow Eliza decided to stay in Newark and in 1859 commissioned the building of the Polhemus House at 69 Washington St. During his lifetime, Rev. Polhemus was very popular in the community and was known as a skilled orator and preacher. Abraham was also a descendant of Sarah Rapalye, the first female white child born in the colony of New Netherland.

Rev. Abraham’s son, James Suydam Polhemus was born in 1856 in Dutchess County, N.Y. In 1857, the family moved to Newark, where James was raised. He attended Williams College and was a member of the New York Produce Exchange and became a successful wool merchant. He was marrried to Ida Bell Wagner, originally of Easton, Pa., and daughter of Dr. Charles Kuhn Wagner. James was president of the Holland Society of New York. and served as deacon and elder of the North Reformed Church in Newark.

James’s son Frederick Suydam Polhemus was born in 1897 in Newark. In 1949, he moved his family to Princeton, where he established a law practice. His daughter, Elaine Ogden Polhemus was born ca. 1935, and is the donor of this collection. She attended the Prospect Hill Country Day School in Newark, Miss Fine’s School in Princeton, N.J., Wellesleyan College, and the New York School of Social Work, Columbia University. She married Edward Earle Frost, Jr. in 1960. She is a member of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America.

As of 2007, the future of the Polhemus House in downtown Newark is still in question. Having been abandoned by the family in 1949, it became an office of the Reach McClinton Advertising Agency in 1959. It has been leased by the Newark Museum since 1982 and is in poor condition. In 2005, it was listed by Preservation New Jersey as one the state’s ten most endangered historic sites. Currently, efforts are being made to incorporate the house into the museum’s expansion plan and use the house as a gallery.

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Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the letters, certificates, wills, deeds, photographs, ephemera and genealogical information belonging to various members of the Polhemus family of Newark, NJ and other related families such as the Callen, Pond, Kuhn, and Wagner families. Items of note include a photostatic copy of original 1662 deed of land to Johannes Theodorus Polhemus from Peter Stuyvesant. The various original deeds of land date back to 1781 and include land in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. The correspondence between various members of the Polhemus family dates back to the 19th century. There are deeds for individual cemetary plots in various cemetaries, and contracts and receipts from grave monument companies. There are family photographs, including one of Rev. Abraham Polhemus, and a photo album of labeled photographs. There are various certificates (birth, marriage, and death), passports and wills. There is ephemera from various New Jersey schools, including Princeton University and Rutgers University. The detailed genealogies included trace the family back to medieval Europe.

Althought the items pertain to dozens of different family and extended family members, Rev. Abraham, his son James Suydam, grandson Frederick Suydam, and great-granddaughter Elaine are very well represented. Also, there is some information on the history of the Polhemus House, located at 69 Washington St., Newark.

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Access Points

The entries below represent persons, organizations, topics, forms, and occupations documented in this collection.
Subject Names:
Frost, Elaine Ogden Polhemus.
Polhemus, Abraham, 1812-1857.
Polhemus, Elizabeth Pond.
Polhemus, Frederick Suydam, 1897-1963.
Polhemus, Ida Bell Wagner, 1859-1946.
Polhemus, James Suydam, 1856-1934.
Polhemus, Johannes Theodorus, 1598-1676.
Wagner, Charles Kuhn, 1823-1898.
Subject Organizations:
Charles Dallas Reach Company.
First Presbyterian Church (Princeton, N.J.)
Holland Society of New York.
Miss Fine’s School (Princeton, N.J.)
North Reformed Church (Newark, N.J.)
Polhemus House (Newark, N.J.)
Princeton University.
Prospect Hill Country Day School (Newark, N.J.)
Rutgers University.
Subject Topics:
Cemetaries–New Jersey.
Dutch Americans.
Land titles–Registration and transfer–New Jersey.
Schools–New Jersey.
Sepulchral monuments.
Universities and colleges–New Jersey.
Weddings–New Jersey–Newark.
Subject Places:
Easton (Pa.)
Newark (N.J.)
Newtown (N.Y.)
Princeton (N.J.)
Document Types:
Letters (Correspondence).
Subject Occupations

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Related Material

Family File–Polhemus

For related collections on the Polhemus Family at other institutions, see:

Rutgers University Archives and Special Collections. Abraham Polhemus Travel Journal, MC 265.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 1681, Polhemus Family Papers, The New Jersey Historical Society.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Elaine Ogden Polhemus Frost, 2007.

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Endangered Historic Site : Polhemus House, 2005.Preservation New Jersey. 3 October 2007 <>

The Polhemus family : a History and Genealogy of the First Six Generations of the Descendants in the Male Line of the Rev.
Johannes Theodorus Polhem[i]usThe Polhemus family : a History and Genealogy of the First Six Generations of the Descendants
in the Male Line of the Rev. Johannes Theodorus Polhem[i]us.
Author and date unknown. Located in Box 2, folder 4 of the collection.

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Container List

Polhemus Family Collection

Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Correspondence 1849-1889
1 1 Correspondence 1849-1889
1 2 Cradle Roll Certificates: Elizabeth Pond and Elaine Ogden Polhemus Frost 1906;1936
1 3 Elizabeth Olds Pond (wife of Frederick Suydam Polhemus): birth certificate, marriage certificate, marriage service booklet,
& passport
1 4 Dr. Charles Kuhn Wagner memorial tribute and his daughter Ida Bell Wagner’s and son-in-law James Suydam Polhemus’s (son of
Rev. Abraham Polhemus) wedding invitation
1898-ca. 1930
1 5 Frederick and Elizabeth Polhemus: passports, vaccination certificates, birth certificate, death certificate, army discharge
1 6 Deeds of land (2): Regarding land in Easton, Pennsylvania to George Frederick Wagner (also includes signatures of Richard
Penn, John Penn, and Edmund Physick, and Mordecai Churchman)
1 7 Photostatic copies of original 1662 deed of land to Johannes Theodorus Polhemus from Peter Stuyvesant (original located in
Princeton University Library)
ca. 1950s
1 8 Deeds of land and a bond: Frederick S. Polhemus, Eliza B. Polhemus, Edwin Van Antwerp, Charles K. Wagner. 1859-1948
1 9 Deeds of land: to Abraham Polhemus from Schenck and Rappelye (1781), and from Jonathan Lawrence (1815), Newtown, Queens
County, New York
1 10 Will of Thomas Price, Sr. of Elizabethtown 1749/1750
1 11 Wills: Abraham Polhemus (1824), Abraham Polhemus (1843) and his wife Cornelia Polhemus (1878), Frederick Kuhn (1785), Frederick
Wagner (1868?)
1 11 Wills: Josiah Callen (will and surrogate paper, 1867), Susan Callen (surrogate paper, 1871), Charles K. Wagner (typewritten
copy of will written in 1898), James S. Polhemus (1929), Harriet K. Steele (1924), Ida B. Polhemus (1939), probated will of
Frederick S. Polhemus (will written in 1958)
Box Folder Title Date
2 1 Cemetary plot documents for various family members 1850-1969
2 2 Rev. Abraham Polhemus related momentos : sermons, letters, poem, obituary, Rutgers College related items 1846-1937
2 3 “The Polhemus Family in Their European Home: Notes from AD 1150-1598 together with a Biographical Outline of Dominic Johannes
Theodorus Polhemus, the American Settler.” –Polhemus family genealogy written by Louis Piers de Boer.
2 4 “The Polhemus family : a History and Genealogy of the First Six Generations of the Descendants in the Male Line of the Rev.
Johannes Theodorus Polhem[i]us.–typewritten genealogy.
2 5 Holland Society of New York items (Polhemus genealogy related) 1926-1951
2 6 Copies of obituary notices : James Suydam Polhemus and Ida Bell Wagner Polhemus 1934-1946
2 7 Polhemus family photographs ca. 1850s-ca. 1945
2 8 Polhemus photograph book and a miniature of Charles Kuhn Wagner, MD. n.d.
2 9 Photographs: daughters of Elaine Polhemus Frost 1982-1985
Box Folder Title Date
3 1 Newark Museum newsletters (2) 1925-1939
3 2 Princeton University ephemera, print of Morven, overhead photographs 1925-1939
3 3 Charles Dallas Reach Company (Reach McClinton Advertising Agency) articles, brochures, (the company moved into the Polhemus
House in 1959.)
ca. 1959
3 4 North Reformed Church, Newark, NJ and First Presbyterian Church, Princeton NJ brochures, clippings, correspondence ca. 1959
3 5 Present Day Club dinner attendance list, invitiation. 1951
3 6 Elaine Ogden Polhemus Frost– copies of engangement and wedding announcements ca. 1960
3 7 Prospect Hill Country Day School Newark, NJ (Elaine Ogden Polhemus Frost) ca. 1947-1948
3 8 Miss Fine’s School (Princeton, NJ) and Wellesley College ephemera, diploma, newsletter 1952-1957
Folder Title Date
OS Large photographs of Frederick Polhemus’s Princeton graduating class and school activities, law license, Polhemus coat of
arms by Tiffany Studios
ca. 1918-ca. 1925

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